Dipterocarp forests

Deciduous dipterocarp forests

The Dipterocarpaceae are a large family of tropical hardwood trees that are long-lived and can grow to exceptional sizes.

Most are evergreen and occur in wet rainforests. Many of these wet forest trees are prized for their timber. The fruits of dipterocarp trees have conspicuous, long wings (sepals) to aid in dispersal by wind. However, of the estimated 680 species, only 6 are deciduous - and all 6 of these are found in the Dry Forests.

This deciduous habit is not, as usual, a response to cold, but rather to a lack of water. In the dry season, these trees lose their leaves as an adaptation to prevent a major source of water loss. Only in small, wetter patches in the Dry Forests with better soils, are evergreen tree species able to survive.

Dipterocarps in the Dry Forests are found in the more arid areas, on poorer soils. They often form open canopy woodlands with a grassy understorey, but sometimes occur in a savanna type formation over large grasslands.

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